When Prashant asked me to help with the festival, he said,’ I heard you need a little bit convincing’ – I actually didn’t – having spent the better part of the last two years in organization mode with photo festivals and workshops I had just told myself that ‘I must learn to say no’ and ‘I have to get back to photographing’. But how could I not? Of course, I had to say yes – The first ever photo festival in India? what a moment of joy, of community and of pride!
Weeks of planning, emailing back and forth at all odd hours and millions of phone calls later we arrived at the week the festival was to open. Sleep was out of the question – long nights were in place for the entire crew. The last week was all about getting it together – it felt surreal if not somewhat scary that it was time. The week… or what was actually 9 days of action packed events kept us running, so much so that I confess I didn’t see a single exhibit until the festival was actually over – it was a blur of visuals that we continued to run past a dozen times a day.
The response was overwhelming, to see the crowds coming in by the dozens to view the exhibitions, the packed-to-the-gills Casuarina Hall day after day for talks and workshops, the enthusiasm and the spirit of visitors, of artists and of the entire team. People were moved. Never had India seen a platform that brought together the different generations of photographers on one common platform. It was magical, it was emotional and it was beautiful.
They laughed, they cried and they learnt – the biggest part for me about the festival was bringing about a sense of belonging within the photographic community and ofcourse, to educate.
It was the passion for the medium of photography that was oozing out of every artist, every lecture and every person that walked through the door at Casuarina. It was inspiring to see people who were inspired at the festival – and there were so many! From wanting to photograph all over again to thinking of how they are going to move forward looking at all the possibilities that were presented in front of them. For me, planting that seed, of wanting more out of photography has been my favourite moment, hands down.
It is that passion for the medium that brought our team together and what a great team it was. From Dinesh and Prashant who spearheaded everything to Abhinav and Feroze who were there when the submission process began. Navneet’s meticulousness on accounts, admin and volunteers was tough to miss (and how could we forget the infamous colour coded excel sheets) along with Karan and Adil who worked day and night on the production end of things to bring together the 28 exhibitions. Gopika and Jeetin gave the festival its look and feel – the website, catalogue among other branding solutions were produced by them. Jeyanthi and her team along with Ragini designed the spaces and the exhibition systems. We were later joined by Hajra who copy edited the catalogue and Aditya and Sudhanshu who joined forces with the production team. Not to miss Kishore bhaiya who tirelessly did everything we needed help on – that was our little team and it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of you!
Dinesh and Prashant – there will never be enough credit or enough thank yous – hats off to you both – you gave life to the vision, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be a part of this… and a part of the magic if it weren’t for you both.
Lets make more magic! See you in 2013?
– Mansi Midha